How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.netWhen I wrote about my bulk taco seasoning recipe, I mentioned we only use 2 pounds of ground beef for our family of 9, and that I only started using the second pound about 2 children ago.  Several of you were shocked and wanted to know how this was possible, so I thought I’d write a little bit more about how we manage this.

First of all, THIS is what 2 pounds of ground beef/hamburger looks like (plus some onions from our garden…more on that in a moment):

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 Pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.net

The skillet is a 15″ cast iron skillet from Lodge.  As the meat cooks, we season it and often throw in onions and/or peppers to add flavor.  From here, the possibilities are endless!

Let’s say you are doing something with a Mexican flair…
Add tomatoes, beans, rice, and some type of sauce (tomato sauce is the most often used one here).

Italian?
More garden veggies, noodles, and sauce.

Sandwich meat?
Oatmeal, veggies, beans, lentils, and yes…sauce!

And don’t forget CHEESE!  We use a lot of cheese, sour cream, and veggies to add to our meat to create a heartier meal.

You can easily double the amount of pasta or rice you put into a dish and still keep the ground beef amounts the same.  Casseroles and stove-top meals (like the Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe below) are the easiest to stretch.  We rarely do something like meatloaf or a meat by itself (unless we are cooking up steaks, pork chops, or homemade brats).  Meatloaf can be bulked up with oats or rice, but not many in my family are fans of meatloaf, so I don’t even bother.

We often make quesadillas for a quick lunch (<—take a look at that post – it’s from when I was pregnant with Baby #7 and there’s a sonogram picture!)  We will start with the 2 pounds of hamburger meat, but when that runs out, we finish off with cheese-only quesadillas.  And again, we encourage the kids to add sour cream, lettuce, and salsa to bulk up calories.

Another thing we do is set out bowls of “sides” that add an element of fun to the meal.  It is not uncommon for there to be pickles, black olives, or a bowl of cut up cucumbers on the table to serve as finger foods to supplement the meal.  Sometimes I serve a traditional side (mainly for the evening meal when Daddy is home), but usually for lunch, the main dish is supplemented only by the extra finger foods.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I do serve snacks.  Around 3 o’clock is snack time and it helps to carry everyone through to suppertime.

Now let me give you a real life example from a meal we had a couple of nights ago…

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls | RaisingArrows.net

I set out to make the Trim Healthy Mama Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from the book, but realized too late they were supposed to be in the crock pot for 7-9 hours!  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does stuff like this!)  So, I went with an unstuffed version from a recipe online.  Of course, there’s no way an online recipe is going to contain the right amounts for our family (unless of course, it’s from my own stash of Large Family Recipes), so I set out to tweak it.

The first thing I noticed was that it had 1.5 – 2 pounds of meat listed to serve 5-6 people; however, the cabbage was supposed to be a small head with the addition of only one small can of tomato sauce.  That’s where I grabbed my bulk.  The cabbage I used was large, and I used 2 cans of sauce, but could have used more if I wanted a soupier mixture (which works really well when putting it over something like rice or noodles!).  I could have added other veggies too like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant or peppers.

Because this was going to be a THM-friendly dish, I had my son cook a large pot of rice as a side for the children.  If you aren’t watching your carb intake, then cook the rice and add it right into the dish itself.  You could even turn this into a soup by adding more tomato sauce and some water or broth.

And that was our meal.  Everyone tanked up and there was only a tiny bit of leftovers that Baby Creed will eat for lunch tomorrow.

Here’s my large family (with only 2# of ground beef) version of Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe (stove top using a 15" skillet) | RaisingArrows.net

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes (or fresh)
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cabbage, coarsely chopped
seasonings to taste

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, or other favorite seasonings.  Add in the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and mix.  Next, add the chopped cabbage and rest a lid on top of the pile of cabbage to encourage it to steam and cook down.  (I promise, it WILL cook down and fit in your 15″ skillet.  If you don’t have a large skillet, transfer the meat to a large pot before adding the cabbage.)  Once the cabbage cooks down a bit, stir to mix the meat and sauce in with the cabbage.  Continue to cook down until cabbage is tender.

Now, it’s your turn!  How do you stretch your meat?  What sorts of things do you add for bulk and calories?  And don’t forget to mention how many you are feeding!

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21 thoughts on “How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger

  1. Wonderful, thank you! I heard a dietician say once that Americans are “obsessed with protein and tend to overdo it. Remember that 4 oz of protein is a serving for an adult.” So between your two pounds of beef and your rice+dairy (that’s a combo that provides protein!) you are doing just fine with meals like these. Good tips on stretching it! Thank you!

  2. Just today I was making a Sweet & Tangy Salad (found the recipe in the kids’ High Five/Highlights magazine) for lunch, and just as I was getting ready to set it on the table I realized it was supposed to chill in the fridge for 2 hours! We let it chill long enough to set the table, but it still tasted great. I’m not a huge vinegar fan, so I think it would’ve been too strong had I let it sit longer. Unfortunately the kids were not huge fans of the new “tangy” flavor.

  3. I slow-cook lentils and various beans and freeze them in quart freezer bags. For burritos or tacos, where meat tends to be the main part of the dish, I mash about a pint of cooked lentils into 1 1/2 lbs. of meat. Season just as you would the meat, delicious! For burgers, I’ve mixed as much as 1/2 & 1/2 meat and pureed black beans and added mexican seasonings before forming the patties. My kids call them taco burgers. And we love chicken or fish patties. Just mix a pound of the meat of your choice with a couple eggs, shredded cheese, chopped spinach, salt and pepper, chopped onion, etc. form patties and fry like you would a burger. I do have to serve a salad with these…my family loves them and even two pounds wouldn’t be enough! I have five kiddos under 10 and another on the way. :)

  4. I add lentils to almost all of my ground beef. My family hardly notices and it allows me to use half the meat. We’re a family of five and I am usually able to get by using a pound of meat per meal.

  5. I add a lot of beans and lentils to our meat. I find cheese is almost as pricey as meat (we use ground turkey from Aldi at 1.69/ lb) so I try to limit it. We also serve a couple of side dishes, usually bread of some sort, and either 2 veggies or a fruit and veggie. My kids think is a super special treat to be served just meat. Our meatloaf has cornflakes in it to stretch and adds a sweetness.

  6. I bulk up foods exactly the same way you do by adding more veggies, etc. And eat THM, too! :) However, we still use only 1 pound of hamburger with 7 of us eating (two kids don’t eat; Abigail and baby). My sister who has 5 kids uses 2-3 pounds of meat and cannot figure out how we do with less… but we are on a very tight budget and simply make do!

  7. We are a family of 4 but can make one pound of hamburger last several meals: 3+ meals in spaghetti sauce with add-ins (peppers, onions, zucchini, pumpkin, etc), usually 2+ meals with black beans over rice, 2-3 meals with dal (found in Indian/ethnic stores–the orange lentil) also served over rice, and various other ways. I cook large portions as I try to not let the meat be the “main” part of the dish and I love having leftovers for another meal the next day or have enough to freeze for a day when I just need something to grab. The kids and I like to add grated up cheese to all of these. Cheese makes anything and everything taste good! I guess I like cooking in large portions having come from a family of 5 kids of BIG eaters. Though I haven’t had to cook for that many in a long time, some habits die hard. But having extra portions to freeze always comes in handy.

  8. yeah, i usually use about .75-1.25 lbs of meat for our fam of 9. we use cabbage, onion, celery, carrot, and other veggies, plus pasta, rice, potatoes, or legumes to stretch it.

  9. I love the suggestions :) I do the pureed lentil trick as well. However, I add tomato sauce instead of water when making tacos. After adding the pureed lentils, tomato sauce and taco seasoning, two pounds of ground beef feed my family of seven plus my brothers who eat here frequently :)

  10. My husband is a hunter, so we often have deer or wild turkey meat in the freezer. It really helps stretch our grocery budget. Some people enjoy hunting but don’t care for the meat, so I encourage them to see if their is a family they know who would like to have the meat processed! We have 9 table food eaters in our family :)

  11. Most often I use only 1 lb. of meat to feed the 6 of us, with some exceptions (burgers, brats, grilled chicken, whole chickens).

    We make taco salad a lot. We make a lot of brown rice and use lots of lettuce, plus I like lots of salsa and cheese too.

    The other week, I took two lbs. of chicken breast and cooked 1 lb. on top of a giant dish of rice (baked in the oven with chicken stock and spices and chicken on top) which made 2 meals for 2 family members plus lots of extra rice. I used the other lb. of chicken breast to put in a big pot of chicken wild rice soup, with lots of brown and wild rice and potatoes (if I’d had them, I would have added carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc. too). That had cheese and chicken stock in it too. It made two meals for four of us, plus two more lunches for me. (the other two family members don’t like creamy soups.)

    I make creamy soups a lot, honestly. Toss in broccoli, rice, potatoes, etc. plus a little meat, rich chicken stock and some milk or cream, and top with a little cheese. Sometimes skip the meat and maybe top with bacon, or nothing (like broccoli cheddar soup).

    I keep chicken stock in my crock pot at all times, homemade, which is so rich that you often don’t need the meat.

    My family really *does* like meatloaf, so we use 1 – 1.5 lbs. of meat for that, with lots of homemade bread crumbs, and plenty of roasted potatoes and some other veggie on the side.

    Oh, big meal salads work well too. Lots of lettuce, other favorite veggies, a homemade vinaigrette, some cheese and a little chicken.

    We’ve been buying higher quality meat and less of it lately so I’ve gotten more creative! :)

  12. Thanks for posting! This is very similar to what we do. I have been blessed with 11 siblings, and I being the cook thought it was ridiculous using 4 1/2 pounds of hamburger meat. We just stretch it and make 1 1/2 pounds last.

  13. Thanks for the unstuffed cabbage roll recipe – we made it last night and it was great! I served it over rice, and my husband and the boys ended up making it into an Asian dish with lots of Asian sauces (I preferred it plain!). It was great, super-easy, and affordable as well. Definitely a keeper! I’ll be linking to it sometime this week – thanks again!